Do you like impressing people with knowledge you acquired on the Internet? Or maybe you’re in a deep league, like stupid deep. We’re talking 14 teams, or maybe even 18. Yeah, 18-team leagues exist. So let’s look for sleepers and waiver wire gold together, and be wrong together, and maybe cry together.
Everyone loves the underdog. Hollywood has been cashing in on that infatuation and making bad movies about little engines and the like for years, along with exaggerating heartwarming stories about little sluggers who were trotted out onto the Notre Dame field for like a play or three. Super awesome, you guys.
But among wide receivers over the past several seasons, the little fast dude has been the king of the sleepers. Specifically, Victor Cruz has been sort of good after going undrafted, and he’s since started a mad hunt for the next Victor Cruz. So yeah, thanks for that, Victor.
And with that, I give you undrafted Raiders rookie Rod Streater.
Streater’s explosion may not come this year, or ever for that matter. ‘Tis the nature of the deep sleeper, and their potential to keep sleeping. But he’s impressed during the preseason so far with 13 receptions for 109 yards, and here’s what we know to be true about the Raiders and their wide receiver depth: there is no certainty.
Louis Murphy was dealt to the Panthers, and both Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore are currently missing practice time with injuries (a hamstring for Moore, and a foot for Ford), which means they’re both in midseason form. The Raiders’ wideouts were decimated last year, with Ford twisting his ankle midway through the season and missing eight games, while Moore missed three. Darrius Heyward-Bey enters the season as Carson Palmer’s top wideout, and we’re still waiting for him to play a full season. He’s missed seven games over his first three years.
The influence of Al Davis still lingers over an Oakland front office that craves athleticism and speed, and therefore consequently they end up employing smaller, thinner, and more fragile receivers to play a brutal game. Streater will likely enter the season as the fourth wideout on Oakland’s depth chart, but with Ford and Moore already injured, the odds of further tweaks, bruises, and strains leading to more missed time and Streater’s climb up the depth chart — even if it’s only a temporary climb — are already increasing.
Streater is fast, lanky, and potentially fragile too, with his 4.42 time in the 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, and his 6’2″, 193-pound frame. But it doesn’t matter if he joins his teammates who have the durability of a tortilla chip. We’re talking sleeper here, so by definition Streater will only be a late-round flier in obsessively deep leagues, and far more likely a waiver wire pickup as you reach for a hatchet to break a glass case during times of desperation.
But here’s what’s especially appealing about Streater, and why he should lead your list of sleeper/waiver wire wideouts. While it’ll be nice if those injury dominoes fall into place and he’s given a shot to make a significant contribution during the regular season, he might not need luck.
Nope, ESPN scout Matt Williamson has a novel idea: Streater’s talent could earn him real, honest, important playing time.
“Streater’s pure size, speed and athletic ability are very noticeable right off the bat and he adjusts well to the ball in the air. I’m shocked he fell through the cracks. His size could separate him from the other Raiders’ speed receivers, particularly in the red zone.”
With Ford and Moore out, Streater will be a starter tomorrow against the Lions, giving him a prime opportunity to keep building his chemistry with Palmer in a game situation, a process that’s already started with his increased practice reps. More importantly, he’ll get a chance to prove that he deserves to see the field during the regular season, even if it’s just sporadically at first in select situations when Moore and Ford are healthy.